Obama's n-word race relations explainer melts Twitter, breaks internet
The two men had a frank discussion on a range of topics, but the one that caused the media ‒ and Twitter ‒ to freak out was the part of the interview on race relations in America.
"Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n----r in public," Obama told Maron.
"That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination,” the president continued. “Societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior."
'N-word' and 'n-----' on Twitter so far today (& some top tweets) pic.twitter.com/7S304NyRm8
— IvorCrotty (@IvorCrotty) June 22, 2015
The podcast was recorded on Friday, but released on Maron’s website Monday. Ignoring the context of Obama’s use of the n-word, people began flipping out about the fact that he used it. A small sampling of media that used “n-word” or some version of it in their headlines included: the Associated Press, CNN, BBC, Politico, Time, Talking Points Memo, the Guardian and many more.
@jbouie That's a very weird headline off that conversation.
— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) June 22, 2015
Desperate for attn, Obama has now devolved into a shock jock "President Obama Uses N-Word In Discussion on Racism" http://t.co/0KvKctMOTv
— Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) June 22, 2015
“TMZ got right to the meat of it and said ‘f*ck it’ to bothering to mention that it had a context: PRESIDENT OBAMA DROPS THE N-WORD’,” Jezebel noted.
Fox guest calls Obama "the rapper-in-chief" for using N-word. http://t.co/TraMjmfWLD
— Ahiza Garcia (@ahiza_garcia) June 22, 2015
Vox used the media explosion to focus on Obama’s implied criticism of the media in his comment.
“This statement can be interpreted as a critique of the media, as much as anything,” Dara Lind wrote for Vox. “There's much more interest in covering discrete incidents of outright racism than there is in covering subtler but still influential ways that racial bias shapes society.”
Not only have those freaking out about Obama saying the N-word missed his point, they're proving his point.
— Gina (@Sprachstudentin) June 22, 2015
Context is important, Obama told Maron during their discussion in the podcast host’s California garage.
“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives… that casts a long shadow and that's still part of our DNA that's passed on," Obama said.
Obama used the N-word when discussing racism and everyone is outraged. But there were presidents who actually owned black people...
— Aley (@AleyLion) June 22, 2015
Are people upset the N-word was used in a context other than responding to one of @POTUS' tweets?
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) June 22, 2015
Despite the sometimes-overt racism Obama still faces, he remains optimistic about the continued improvements of race relations in the country.
"I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you've lived through being a black man in the 1950s or '60s or '70s," Obama said. ““It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours and that opportunities have opened up and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact."
If y'all search "Obama n-word", tears of confusing laughter may flow.
— Baldy Gabe (@antiLACEFRONTS) June 22, 2015
“If we made as much progress over the next 10 years as over the last 50, things would be better. That’s within our grasp,” he added.
I like that people who aren't offended by the Confederate Flag in any context are offended that Obama used the N-word in context.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) June 22, 2015
Many have noted that Obama is not the first president to use the derogatory term, but he might be the first to use it without being derogatory… or downright racist.
getting the n-word to trend nationally is probably the only accomplishment Obama can claim as president
— el Sooper ن (@SooperMexican) June 22, 2015
President Harry Truman referred to then-Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, the first African-American from New York to be elected to the US House, as "that damned n---- preacher." Meanwhile, President Lyndon B. Johnson referred to a civil rights bill ‒ one introduced years before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 that he signed ‒ as “the n---- bill.” He also said he talked over his problems with his “n----- maid.” President Richard Nixon was also known to use the term.
i mean, obama is probably the 44th president to use the n-word
— pilot (@pilotbacon) June 22, 2015
The White House released a statement Monday noting that this is not the first time Obama has used the n-word.
"Truth is he uses the term about a dozen times in 'Dreams from my Father'," White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said.
The interview occurred two days after 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof killed nine people in a racially motivated attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Along with the discussion on race, Obama and Maron discussed gun violence and mass killings in the country.
"White gunman kills 9 blacks in church" Conservatives: *yawn* "President used n-word in talk on racism" Conservatives: THIS IS AN OUTRAGE
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) June 22, 2015
DO NOT be more incensed Obama uttered the n-word than the fact 9 people were slaughtered during bible study for being dark skinned.
— Tina Dupuy (@TinaDupuy) June 22, 2015